A few days ago I wrote the post below with the title "Redeemer (Officially) Goes Multi-site." That was based on Tim Keller's letter that was posted on the Aquila Report.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Keller. He and I found ourselves serving on the Bills and Overtures Committee of our denomination. During a quiet moment he introduced himself and we spoke about my article and the concerns I raised.
One of those who commented on my post was of the opinion that Redeemer's announcement was temporary in nature. I wasn't so sure. For the record, Tim informed me that Redeemer's announcement should be understood as a temporary arrangement as they prepare for his eventual succession. Currently he is preaching at all four locations each Sunday. In the short run he and the lead pastors will share preaching responsibilities - he will preach one week, they will preach the next, etc. This will give the four Redeemer sites time to acclimate to the new preachers. As time goes on Tim will preach less and less until such time as the lead pastors take it over completely.
Tim also indicated that Redeemer's plan is to create, with presbytery's help, four self-governing congregations (particular churches). Each church will start off with a Session of seven ruling elders. For now the lead pastors will be associate pastors of Redeemer Presbyterian serving on one single session until the time arrives to create the four churches.
I thank Tim for speaking with me and graciously helping me understand what is going on. Our conversation was very cordial and he was very much a gentleman. My apologies to Tim and those at Redeemer for speaking without having all the facts.
Yes, I know that the big news of the week in the PCA is that
Leo Schuster to be one of Four Lead Pastors for separate congregations of Redeemer NYC. However, buried in the announcement are a number of things that are troubling. Front and center is that Redeemer is not splitting up and forming four independent congregations. Rather, it is following the multi-site model with one Session overseeing four 'congregations' (the term is in quotes to differentiate it from 'particular churches', the Book of Church Order term for self-governing congregations).
Here is Tim Keller in his own words:
One of the main tasks the elders were given was to search and select new Lead Pastors, each of whom would direct one congregation under my leadership, and who would share the preaching ministry in that congregation with me. For nine months we have looked both within our church and across the country to find these pastors.
Lead Pastor - A term not defined by our constitution.
Congregation - A term usually synonymous with 'particular church' but not in this case.
Under my leadership - What is Rev. Keller's role? Is he the Lead Pastor of Lead Pastors? Is he the CEO of Redeemer Inc.? Is he the Archbishop of Manhattan?
Before introducing the men to you below, first please save this date - September 22, 2010 7:00 PM. On that evening we will hold a special service where we will begin the process of forming four congregations with these lead pastors.According to our constitution the presbytery forms new churches. It appoints a commission to examine officer candidates, ordain and install them. The presbytery also examines ministers who are then ordained and installed by the presbytery. How is that Redeemer will be forming congregations? Where is the presbytery's role in all of this?
During the summer we will begin the work of organizing leadership and officers into four distinct teams and over the next 12 months we will need you to step up and serve in the areas you are gifted so that each congregation is ready to launch some time in 2011.Organizing leadership - The constitution of the PCA specifies how leadership of the congregation is to be established - elders and deacons for each particular church. Nowhere does the Book of Church Order address 'teams'. Obviously, their model of 'congregations' and 'leadership' is novel, to say the least.
And here is the mission...
Remember that although we will become four neighborhood-based congregations, we will still be one church under one Session and we will work side by side in many areas of ministry as one unified body seeking to renew this city with the gospel.One church, in four separate locales, under one Session. Again, a novel interpretation of the Book of Church Order. Ever hear of the franchise model of business? It has entered the church.
One brother has written a very thoughtful piece about this development.
A New Era To Begin for Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City I encourage you to read it and follow the links.
I'm no expert on such matters. It just strikes me as odd that at this moment, when the PCA is in turmoil over the deaconess issue and the proposed Strategic Plan (both of which were heavily influenced by Redeemer, Inc.), comes this news. I am well aware the Redeemer is not the first church in the PCA to go multi-site, but it is the most high-profile. We are way beyond the proverbial camel's nose being under the tent. Fellow presbyters in the PCA: What will you do?